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Taco festival canceled after hundreds upset, demand refunds after food reportedly runs out

Portland Taco Festival organizers canceled their event for Sunday after attendees got upset the day before when they said the event ran out of tacos in a short amount of time. (KATU Photo)

Anger and chaos erupted at a family festival Saturday at Portland Meadows in North Portland after vendors ran out of food and event organizers began turning people away.

The issue caused organizers of Portland Taco Festival to cancel the event for Sunday.

Hundreds of attendees demanded refunds from organizers of the Portland Taco Festival when tacos at the highly anticipated two-day event were sold out in reportedly 90 minutes.

Attendees paid $17.50 for entry and $10 for parking per car.

Tom and Caroline Spangler paid more than $200 to enter the festival. Extended family traveled from central Washington for the event.

Spangler says once they entered, they spent an hour in line, only to move a few feet.

"We got in line and we weren't going anywhere, and then someone told us that the taco truck ran out of food," Spangler said. "It's only fair that we get our money back."

The Spanglers and hundreds of others circled the on-site event organizer, demanding answers.

Caroline Spangler used her cellphone to broadcast the confrontation live on Facebook.

"We want our money back!" people are heard screaming in the background. "How do we get our money back?"

Portland Police were called to help manage the growing crowd.

The event organized by Connected Soul and Another Brother Productions, which is based in Denver, Colo., advertised music, dancing, a drink expo and tacos from "the best independent food trucks" and "restaurants in Oregon."

In the video, the organizer says they can file a complaint with GiveBackTickets, the company in charge of ticket sales.

According to their policy, all amounts paid are non-refundable.

A KATU crew tried to enter the festival, but were turned away by security. KATU left messages with the event's organizers. No one returned our requests for comment by deadline.

Other attendees said they did not recommend the event to friends, even though they already paid for tickets.

One man visiting from Tacoma was given a shirt by vendors as he left, saying, "I wish I was full of tacos, instead of emotions."

Emotions were running high Saturday night.

"I understand that it is their first time, the first year of it, but it was not handled in a very good way," Spangler said. "I felt like we really got ripped off."

In a statement posted on the festival's website Sunday morning announcing the festival's cancellation, organizers said they took full responsibility for what happened.

"The fact is there were some key issues that made the event fall short in a lot of peoples (sic) minds. For this we are deeply sorry. We are not making any excuses. We take full responsibility for everything. We just wanted to be as transparent as possible," they wrote.

They said several factors kept the event from being successful, including technical problems and unclear signage.

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